Honey gourami (Trichogaster chuna) are the smallest fish of their species. They are also called sunset honey or red gourami due to their golden-orange coloration. These are great fish for inexperienced aquarists who are just starting in the hobby. They are attractive and peaceful within the aquarium. Honey gourami are naturally found in northern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They are freshwater species of fish that easy to care for.
Aside from their ease of care, they have a lot to offer an aquarium. They have vibrant colors and a timid yet calm personality. Honey gourami is also widely available in captivity and comes in a variety of sizes according to their age.
Quick Facts About the Honey Gourami
|Tropical: 72°F to 80°F
|Orange for males and silver gray for females
|5 to 7 years
|Minimum Tank Size:
|Freshwater, slow current and dense vegetation
|Other peaceful fish
Honey Gourami Overview
The first literature about the honey gourami is from Hamilton and Buchanan in 1822. The fish have since been in captivity over the last few decades, and the males and females were originally mistakenly taken as different species. Although we now know that the females and males just display different colors, it does not make them two different species. They are not all grouped under Trichogaster and do not have separate names.
These fish get their name from their long ventral fins, which are what makes the honey gourami one of the most attractive fish in the hobby. The fish is now commercially mass-produced for captivity. There are also selectively bred variations known to improve the breed. This occurs between the dwarf and honey gourami. These fish originate from slow-moving waters that are rich with vegetation. The waters also have low oxygen levels, but this does not mean that their tank should not have an aeration system. Oxygen will be important for the entire tank’s ecosystem and its inhabitants.
Just like the Siamese fighter fish, honey gourami also has a labyrinth organ that helps them to breathe by gulping water from the surface. This works like a lung and allows them to survive in poorly oxygenated waters. The fixation on these beautiful fish stemmed from Asia where they were kept as pets, they soon made their way into the commercial pet trade and became a popular attraction.
How Much Do Honey Gourami Cost?
Unlike many fish sold in pet stores, honey gourami is not typically wild-caught. This means they are born and bred into captivity and have had decades to adapt to living in tanks. You will find them in nearly every pet store or online fish breeding website. They do not typically cost a lot. Since males are more colorful, you should expect to pay more for them than you would for a female.
The price difference between the two genders is never usually more than $1 or $2. A local fish store should sell them between $3 to $5 and online stores will typically sell better quality genetic lines for $5. Males are more sought out in the hobby and are therefore stocked in higher numbers than females.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
These are peaceful and active fish that do well in community tanks. They are known to be shy when they are unfamiliar with their environment and do become more energetic once they have settled into their home.
These fish are not aggressive to other species of fish but do have boisterous behaviors that make them curious to investigate the tank. They do not do well with aggressive or dominating fish and they will become scared and seek shelter. This can cause your honey gourami to be less active and even take shelter in crevices for weeks until the aggressive tank mate is removed.
They are also easily spooked by children who may make fast movements near the tank, loud noises, or even tap on the glass. Since these fish have labyrinth organs, they will stay close to the top of the tank to make breathing easier. This also allows them to get oxygen quicker. They are also shoaling fish and love the company of their species. Lower stress levels and a longer lifespan have been documented when honey gourami have been kept in large groups.
Appearance & Varieties
Honey gourami is exceptionally colorful and has a vibrant range of attractive color varieties. The male gourami has a sunset orange color across the whole body. This color is not solid and has fading details and shades that make them stand out. Male gouramis are known for their ability to have vivid colors and shades. The throats and fins of the males are an exception to the orange coloration. The throat is a blue to silver color and their fins are a lighter yellow with deep orange rims.
The female gourami is typically a silver color with exceptionally light gray fins. Interestingly, the males are like this at birth as well until they develop their orange coloration. They will also have color changes as they mature; this is for mating purposes. The males and females have an almost identical body shape, but females will have a slight rounder abdomen.
The overall mature bodily color is the best way to determine the gender between the two. The anal and dorsal fins start about one-third from their back and extend to the caudal fin and peduncle. They have small pectoral fins and have ventral fins that are long and thin. The ventral fins hang from the body.
How to Take Care of Honey Gourami
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Honey gouramis may be small, but they require large tanks to be content. A tank of 15 gallons is fine for two gouramis the size should double as you add in two more to complete a shoal. Large tanks are necessary to house an appropriately sized school since these fish can get about 3 inches. Their high energy levels also make it necessary to keep them in a large tank. They require a decent-sized amount of swim room to get keep them both entertained and healthy.
These fish are poorly suited to living in bowls or vases. The distortions of the glass and small size will cause unnecessary stress. It is best to house them in a shallow rectangular tank over the minimum size.
Water temperature and pH
These are tropical fish that require a heater for the tank to reach their preferred temperature. The tank’s temperature should range from 72°F to 80°F. They thrive in acidic water at a pH between 6.0 to 7.5.
Honey gouramis do well on a variety of substrates but have a preference for aquarium sand or fine gravel. Not only do these substrates help plants to develop a proper root system, but it also helps beneficial bacteria develop.
These fish do well with live plants that have bushy leaves. Dense vegetation naturally occurs in their wild habitat. They also require some cages and large crevices to seek shelter when they are startled and become scared.
They are not fussy when it comes to lighting. They do well with artificial and natural lights. The lighting should be kept mild to moderately bright. Harsh lighting for over eight hours will only encourage unwanted algae growth and stress out your honey gourami. They require a day and night cycle. Since fish do not eyelids, you should not keep the lights on for more than ten hours.
They need a filter that produces a slow current and a low amount of surface agitation. Sponge or cartridge filters work best with these fish. Filters help to keep the water clean and free of debris and fish waste.
Are Honey Gourami Good Tank Mates?
Other non-aggressive fish will provide a peaceful community in your honey gourami tank. Since these fish are peaceful and timid, large fish can potentially swallow or eat the small honey gourami fish. Aggressive fish will also constantly harass your gourami and cause them to hide. Aggressive traits in fish are to be avoided when pairing them with honey gourami.
It is best to choose other fish that will ignore them and swim at other levels of the tank. Bottom feeders and mid-dwelling fish are good matches. A good recommendation is to ask the pet store what fish they have in stock that is the least aggressive. We have put together a list of some suitable and unsuitable tank mates.
What to Feed Your Honey Gourami
Honey gourami is an omnivore and will eat a lot of insects and plants in the wild. Protein-rich foods are important in captivity and should be supplemented regularly. Commercial pellets that have algae in Is recommended. Flakes and pellets are suitable for daily feeding. You can supplement their diet with protein-based foods like larvae, bloodworms, and baby brine shrimp.
Tubifex cubes can be very convenient when broken up into the aquarium. This will encourage natural foraging behavior. Different food sources also add good enrichment and variety when it comes to feeding time. Overfeeding is to be avoided with honey gourami. They are susceptible to bloat which can put excess pressure on their swim bladder. Keep in mind that their stomach is approximately the size of their eye.
Keeping Your Honey Gourami Healthy
It is easy to keep these attractive fish healthy. All they require is a large tank, a shoal of at least four fish, and a good filter. Ensuring that you meet all their care requirements will keep your honey gourami happy and healthy. You should also regularly test the water so that you can get a good indication of the number of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in the water.
Regular water changes should be done to keep the water clean. The filter should be cleaned at least once a month. Sponge filters will attract a lot of waste that can potentially clog the filter up over time. This will also lower the efficiency of the filter and cause it to stop working. Your honey gourami is also susceptible to diseases like ich or bacterial infections if the tank is not maintained properly.
Keeping stress low in your gourami’s environment will make their colors shine and intensify. If your honey gourami has an unusual dull color, it may be a sign of stress. It will then be best to get to the root of the problem and remove the stressful tank mate or item from the tank.
Breeding is achievable in a captive environment. Under the right conditions, you will be able to get a breeding pair to produce a healthy batch of fry. Understanding the breeding process is also important when it comes to ethically breeding them. The mating pair should be placed inside of a breeding pair with a heater and some plastic decorations. Gradually warm up the aquarium over five days to condition them for breeding. You should also lower the water level in the breeding tank to stimulate their natural breeding conditions.
Like the betta fish, they make bubble nests on the surface to keep their eggs. When the male is ready to mate, he will continually bump into the female after he has constructed a bubble nest. The bubble nest is made near a broadleaf at the surface and will appear as tiny foamy bubbles that cluster together. Once the female lays eggs, the males will fertilize and place the eggs in the bubble nest. The male will then guard the nest till the eggs are hatched. No parental care is present once the fry is born.
Is Honey Gourami Suitable for Your Aquarium?
The honey gourami is a very colorful and majestic fish that will make a great addition to an appropriately established tank. They are active and fun to watch as they playfully dart around the tank. They are suitable for tanks that are large and heavily planted. The tank should have a preset heater to provide a tropical environment. Ensure that the tank is large enough for a shoal of both males and females. They are good for beginner aquarists and are typically low-maintenance fish.